How Does a Prenup Work?

Prenups serve as a legal contract between soon-to-be spouses, outlining how financial matters will be handled both during the marriage and in the event of a divorce.


When love is in the air, and you're embarking on the journey of marriage, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of wedding planning and envisioning a future together. However, amidst choosing the perfect venue and deciding whether to hyphenate your last names, there's a practical aspect of marriage that often goes overlooked: the prenuptial agreement, or prenup for short.

Prenups: Not Just for the Rich and Famous

Contrary to popular belief, prenups aren't exclusively for celebrities or those with substantial wealth. As family law attorney Theresa Viera points out, prenups are for everyone. They serve as a legal contract between soon-to-be spouses, outlining how financial matters will be handled both during the marriage and in the event of a divorce. Whether it's deciding on a joint bank account, how to tackle student loans, or who gets the espresso machine if you part ways, a prenup covers it all.

The Rising Trend

It's interesting to note that prenups are becoming more common. A survey by the Harris Poll in 2022 found that 15% of married or engaged respondents had signed a prenup, a significant increase from 3% in 2010. This shift suggests a growing recognition of the practicality and importance of having these discussions early on.

Like Insurance for Your Marriage

Thinking about a prenup doesn't mean you're betting against your marriage. Instead, think of it as financial safety netting, similar to car insurance. It's about having open and honest conversations on financial matters that affect every marriage, ensuring both parties feel secure and understood.

Timing Is Key

Viera recommends starting the conversation about a prenup at least six months before the wedding. This timing allows couples to discuss their financial goals and expectations without the added pressure of wedding planning. Whether it's owning a business, planning retirement, or managing debt, these discussions can help determine if a prenup is right for you.

Protection Beyond Wealth

One crucial aspect of prenups is the protection they offer to non-earning partners, such as stay-at-home parents. While child support cannot be included in a prenup, a prenup can ensure that non-earning spouses are not left financially vulnerable in the event of a divorce, providing a fair division of shared resources and protection from debt incurred during the marriage.

Without a Prenup

If you opt not to have a prenup, state laws will dictate the division of finances, property, and debts in the event of a divorce. This means that your financial affairs will be managed according to general rules that may not align with your personal wishes or circumstances.

The Legalities

Negotiating a prenup is negotiating a legally binding contract. It's essential that each spouse has a lawyer to understand their rights and ensure the agreement is fair and equitable. The cost of a prenup varies, but investing in this legal process can save both emotional and financial strain in the future.

A Gesture of Care

Considering a prenup is, at its core, a way of taking care of each other. It's acknowledging that while you love each other today, the future is uncertain. A prenup is a promise to look out for each other's well-being, no matter what happens.

The Bottom Line

Discussing a prenup may seem daunting, but it's a vital step in building a strong foundation for your marriage. Even if you decide a prenup isn't for you, having the conversation about finances is crucial. It's not about distrust; it's about preparation, understanding, and ultimately, care for one another.

At First, we understand the importance of these conversations and are here to make the process as straightforward and non-stuffy as possible. Remember, a prenup isn't about preparing for the end. It's about ensuring the security and happiness of both partners, come what may.

Source: NPR: "Prenups aren't just for the rich and famous. Here's when to consider one," written by Marielle Segarra, published on August 31, 2023.